SOROTI - Human resource administrator Manager working with Portuguese firm Mota-engil Africa was on Wednesday charged at the Soroti Chief Magistrates Court with attempted rape and indecent Assault and remanded to the Soroti Government Prison.
Joaquim Domingos Cosya who was in charge of the World Bank-funded maintenance of the Tororo-Soroti road was arrested in Kampala after he fled his work station following an Investigation ordered by Uganda National Roads Authority Executive Director Allen Kagina after staff complaints.
The 63-year-old Portuguese was arrested by police a month ago after three women working as cleaners at his office reported to Kengere police post in Soroti town, of sexual harassment.
He was released on police bond as police started investigations in regards to the allegations brought against him.
"After gathering our evidence, we rearrested him and the Resident State Attorney has preferred charges of attempted rape, sexual harassment and indecent assault," police spokesman for Kyoga East Michael Odongo said.
According to the charge sheet, Domingos is accused of sexually harassing three women between the months of April of 2018 to July of this year.
He did not plead guilty to the three charges.
"This is a sensitive matter that I cannot discuss with you," his lawyer Philip Engulu told New Vision without giving reasons as to why his client did not plead guilty.
The magistrate declined to grant New Vision permission to take pictures in court on grounds that it's only the chief magistrate who should grant us the permission. The chief magistrate was not in the office.
The incident reportedly happened at Mota-engil Africa camp in Soroti town. UNRA's media manager Allan Sempebwa told the New Vision that Domingos was arrested from Kampala and taken back to Soroti where he was charged.
"Our investigations and compliance team headed by Beata Chelimo was swift enough and apprehended him before he could fly out of the country. We visited the camp and recorded testimonies from the staff he harassed and attempted to rape," Sempebwa said.
The New Vision has also learnt that the detectives handling the case had withdrawn the suspect's passport.
Mota-Engil was given the contract to maintain the Soroti-Tororo road following the launch of a road inspection report of the North Eastern Road Corridor which called for an improvement of safety measures to make the road safer for all users.
The 340km stretch, known as the North Eastern Road Corridor Asset Management Project (NERAMP) covers the Tororo-Mbale-Soroti-Lira-Kamdini road which is currently under rehabilitation and improvements funded by the World Bank was partly given to Mota-Engil Africa.
The roadworks are under the output-based contracting which is being implemented for the first time in Uganda along the NERAMP corridor which will help preserve the road asset by protecting it from further deterioration through timely interventions.
In December 2015, World Bank cancelled funding for a Uganda transport initiative, citing environmental concerns and allegations of sexual misconduct by China Railway Seventh Group Company Ltd who were working on the Kamwenge-Kabarole road.
The cancelation came after an early review of the Uganda Transport Sector Development Project uncovering numerous problems, the bank said.
The bank took action following complaints received by an independent board. Sempebwa noted that the suspension of aid by the World Bank was a good lesson and they had learnt.
"Once beaten twice shy" We are not allowing such occurrences on our projects again. We want to ensure that compliance is tightened especially the protection of the workforce from exploitation.